Every year some college basketball fan thinks that they will be the one to finally get the perfect bracket. So will it be you this year? Probably not, because the odds are beyond stacked against you and everyone else.
There are 68 teams that enter this tournament, and one will come out victorious over the course trying to win six games. The first round action starts on Thursday, March 16, at noon, and the champion will be crowned on April 3. So, you have to pick a total of 63 games correctly and think you can do it? Let’s take a look at the odds of actually pulling it off.
First there has yet to be anyone who has successfully filled out a perfect bracket, and yes, that includes the person at your office who fills out 12 different brackets. The person to come the closest to filling out the perfect bracket was Gregg Nigl of Columbus, Ohio, who predicted the first 49 games of the tournament back in 2019.
He went on the Today Show to explain that his formula was “ watching a lot of Big Ten basketball, bracketology, and a lot of luck,”. The last part is probably the biggest factor because it just takes that to win. Statistical odds show that your odds of winning are nearly impossible. You have a 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 of winning if you use a coin flip.
That’s nine quintillion, two hundred twenty-three quadrillion, three hundred seventy-two trillion, thirty-six billion, eight hundred fifty-four million, seven hundred seventy-five thousand, eight hundred eight. To one.
And knowing basketball apparently doesn’t help either, because that just reduces your odds to 1 in 120.2 billion.
The reason it’s so hard is that even if you predict upsets, which seems to be easier now, there will still be a miracle that was completely unpredictable that happens at some point in the process. The randomness in college basketball is just too high to confidently find outcomes.
And even if you get past the second and third round perfectly, it becomes even harder picking the Sweet 16 and beyond because the teams are normally evenly matched, so the games could really go either way.
But we hope this doesn’t scare you away from trying to make that perfect bracket anyway. Go for it, because as Michael Scott once said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take. Wayne Gretzky.”